The burnt and stabbed body of a Holocaust survivor was found in her Paris apartment, in what a watchdog on anti-Semitism said was a case reminiscent of an alleged anti-Semitic hate crime.
The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, wrote in a statement Sunday that the suspected murder of the 85-year-old woman, identified by BNVCA and in the French media only as Mireille K., “is reminiscent of the crime committed against Sarah Halimi,” a 66-year-old Jewish teacher and physician, whom prosecutors say was murdered by her Muslim neighbor in April partly in connection with her Jewish identity.
According to the BNVCA, the octogenarian’s body was set on fire Friday night. Her charred body also had at least 11 stab wounds. Police have a suspect in custody in connection with her death.
The victim was found dead in her apartment on Philippe August Street in Paris’ 11th District, in the city’s east near the Nation Square. She reported in the past to authorities about a man from the same street, whom she said had threatened to “burn her,” BNVCA wrote.
A forensic examination of the apartment showed that an arsonist started a fire in at least five distinct areas of that space, the report also said.
Last month, the brutal murder of Halimi was declared an anti-Semitic act, a legal source told AFP, after a campaign to draw attention to the crime.
When Sarah Halimi died last April in Paris, her family and Jewish groups blamed anti-Semitism.
Kobili Traore, 27, who was arrested the day after the killing, went before the instructing magistrate, who finally added anti-Semitism to the charges, the source said.
Traore was Halimi’s neighbor and allegedly broke into her apartment in a public housing development in eastern Paris on the night of April 3.
Amid shouts of “Allah Akbar” (God is great), Koranic verses and insults, he beat Halimi before throwing her out of the window.
“I’ve killed the demon,” he allegedly shouted in Arabic.
The murder stirred debate over anti-Semitism and violence in working-class districts of France. Officials had been reluctant to ascribe the crime to anti-Semitism.
Earlier this month, the judge scrapped a hate crime element from the indictment of Traore; the prosecution appealed the decision.
Despite having taken a large amount of cannabis before the killing, psychiatric testing found he was still responsible for his actions, which were “not incompatible with an anti-Semitic dimension.”
The prosecutor then called for anti-Semitism to be added to the charges, as Jewish groups had demanded.
Last month, they started legal action demanding a response from the instructing magistrate on whether Halimi was targeted because of her religion.
The affair took a political turn last July when President Emmanuel Macron called for the full facts to be known during a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
France’s half-a-million-plus Jewish community has voiced increasing concern with a rise in anti-Semitic acts that have seen thousands of Jews leave for Israel.
AFP contributed to this report